It’s that time of year once again — the time when we ask our friends in the New York wine industry to share their Thanksgiving traditions as well as their wine (or cider or beer) pairing plans for the holiday. I’ve also asked the NYCR team to chime in with their plans.
Here at New York Cork Report international headquarters, I’m feeling a bit behind schedule. Typically I’ve pulled all of the wines we’ll have on Thanksgiving Day by now — but I haven’t pulled a single one from the cellar yet. Perhaps not surprisingly, we drink mostly New York wines and that will continue this year. We’ll start with sparkling wine –likely from Hermann J. Wiemer and Wolffer Estate — during the early afternoon, while I’m doing the final bit of pre-oven prep on my riff on this spatchcocked turkey recipe. During the meal, there will be rieslings of various sweetness levels from some of my favorite producers — Forge Cellars, Bloomer Creek and Ravines — but we’ll also have Macari Early Wine on the white side of things. If we have any rose left in the cellar, we’ll have that available too. On the red side of things, I’ll open some Heart & Hands pinot noir and some Roanoke Vinyeards cabernet franc and maybe Southold Farm + Cellars’ sparkling petit verdot. I like to have a lot of options.
The greatest thing this year — at least for me — is seeing how involved my kids are in preparations already. Anna (who will be 4 next week) helped Nena make cranberry sauce the other day. Jackson (who is 8) cut all of the bread that will become stuffing later this week, and they both helped her make pie crusts (one for apple pie, the other for turkey pot pie on Friday) last night. Jackson has more or less taken over the pumpkin pudding-making duties and tomorrow afternoon they’ll both help me make Parker House roll dough and jump in all day Thursday to help us as we bring everything together.
That’s a snapshot preview of our Thanksgiving. Here’s what our friends in the New York wine industry have planned:
“We are a bit behind thinking through our wine selections this year, but here is my best guess. The classic Thanksgiving wine that we return to every year is a dry sparkling cider, likely from Eve’s Cidery. Not only is it beautiful to look at and taste, it is also refreshing and lower in alcohol to carry through the cooking earlier in the day (not to mention the meal). For the meal itself we tend to stay very local as a way of giving thanks for the work of the past year. Hopefully some of the tasty dry Muscat Ottonel that Julia made at Sheldrake, either Sheldrake’s or my Rose, and one of the stainless steel Cabernet Francs from Red Newt. In all honesty, left to our own druthers we probably would pick bottles from elsewhere around the wine world to try out, but I don’t think our family’s would appreciate that as much!” — Kelby Russell, Winemaker, Red Newt Cellars
“We of course do thanksgiving with the traditional turkey meal, but often with a bit of an Italian twist. We often start with pasta, I like Manicotti, its pre-made and can be served over time as people arrive. We would always have some antipasti as well to nibble on, cured meats, cheeses, olives etc. For dessert I always save room for cannoli from Mike’s Pastry, and ricotta pie Modern Pastry. I know it requires a stop at two bakery’s (and a trip to Boston) but don’t mix them up! For wine we of course have to drink some of ours. Family and friends always request that. I like big bottles, it’s easy to carry and fun to serve. My go to wine would be a double-magnum of Bordo, our Cab Franc. It’s a medium bodied red, fruit forward and acid driven which complements a variety flavors and textures. Bordo also has a lot of Cab Franc spice which shows well with strong thanksgiving foods.” — Anthony Nappa, Winemaker, Anthony Nappa Wines & Raphael
“I have a strange family who cooks rabbit for Thanksgiving so Barolo and Burgundy. Also a few liters of Champagne can help make the day more digestible.” — Dean Babiar, winemaker, Jamesport Vineyards
“This year I actually plan on bringing some Italian wines to the table. My family and I drink local/New York wines year-round for the most part so we’ll be exploring something different. My brothers (17 and 22) and I have been handed the torch for cooking dinner, and we intend to keep it traditional and purist — we love the classics. The Chianti game has obviously changed over time so I’m excited to buy a couple high-quality bottles of that. Ripassos are a wallet-friendly alternative to Amarone so I will certainly seeking a couple of those. For pre-dinner we will likely drink some Lieb Cellars Blanc de Blancs, a Lambrusco (or similiar sparkling dry red) and German dry Riesling — that’s becoming a standard in our household. My youngest brother might sneak a couple of Beck’s but don’t tell mom. Since I live three hours from my family, and work weekends, it is always really great to be able to have a couple days with them. Our thanksgiving is small, but that allows us time to really catch up and there’s way less time spent cleaning and fussing over details.” — Alicia Ekeler, Director of Tasting Rooms, Lieb Cellars
“The first time I brought cider to my family Thanksgiving (from Farnum Hill), I think I was the only one that drank it. Four years later, it’s become a tradition to share and sample new and interesting ciders before, during, and after our turkey. We tried six or seven last year, and the runaway hit was Windfall Orchard Ice Cider from Cornwall, Vermont. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be with friends, and will bring along a bottle of Aaron Burr Appinette, made in Wurtsboro, New York — a dry, fizzy, unfiltered blend of Traminette grapes with Orange County apples. It’s plush and almost tropical, and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do.” — Corin Hirsch, New York Cork Report
“Prior to becoming a new mom, my Thanksgiving consisted of drinks out with friends the night before and traveling to either my parent’s house or my husband’s parent’s house the day of for dinner. Now that we have a 15 month old daughter, Renny, and are eager to establish our own family traditions, we’ll be doing things a little differently. This year, I’ll be skipping drinks on the eve (thank you, parenthood), waking up early to cook a good breakfast and then participating as a family (our golden retriever, Jersey, included) in our town’s annual 5K turkey trot. After that, we’ll return home to catch the end of the Macy’s parade on TV and start prepping for turkey dinner for 16 at our house. I’m in charge of apps and wine (of course), my mom’s on the turkey and fixins’ and my sister’s got desserts. We have an open kitchen with a big long farm table, so dinner at our house is always casual, family-style, spirited affair. As proud supporters of our local community, we’ll be both eating and drinking local. I plan to serve Bridge Lane box wines (Red Blend, White Blend and Rose) with the appetizers, as they’re always crowd pleasers, and then get a little more “fancy” for dinner with 3 of my favorite food-friendly local bottles right now: our Lieb Cellars 2013 Sparkling Rose, Anthony Nappa’s 2014 “Bordo” Cabernet Franc and McCall Vineyard’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. When we go around the table to say what we’re thankful for, I’ll be sure to mention how lucky I feel to be part of our blossoming local wine community. Happy Thanksgiving!” — Ami Opisso, General Manager, Lieb Cellars
“Thanksgiving in our house typically means having the entire family over along with a few close friends — generally that comes to 12-15 people. It’s a pretty traditional meal, with a big turkey and lots of sides. (And pies. Several pies. Damn, I love pie.) Last year we decided to go entirely Rose with the meal, and since I was working for a winery that made a pretty good one that’s what we had. Half a case of it, as a matter of fact. OK, sure, there was some Riesling too, maybe four or five bottles’ worth, and I think someone snuck some Pinot Noir up from the cellar. But we mainly drank Rose. This year, though, we’re going to my brother-in-law’s place. The meal will be pretty much the same, but I have no idea what wines we’ll be drinking. I might have to bring a few bottles along just to be safe. The important thing is that the entire family will be together. It doesn’t happen often, so when it does it’s special.” — Paul Zorovich, New York Cork Report
“I’m going with a carbonic maceration merlot/cab franc blend that I’ll be pulling right outbid the tank the day before. It’s a beauty with low alcohol, lots of fruit popping out and crackling acid. Also probably open a bottle or two from the Nahe.” — Rich Olsen-Harbich, Winemaker, Bedell Cellars
“The Macari family will definitely be popping some 2015 Early Wine as well as a magnum of our 2010 Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc sold out in 750s but we just released a few magnums for the holidays. Our two harvest interns, Biel from Spain and Rudy from France, will be joining us for dinner. We plan to open domestic wines so that Biel and Rudy can report back to their friends and family about their newfound love for American wine! Biel’s family makes wine south of Barcelona near Sitges, Vega de Ribes. His brother and sister recently visited the North Fork and brought us bottles of their wine that we will open on Thanksgiving as well.” — Gabriella Macari, Macari Vineyards
“This year the crowd is a bit smaller than usual, so it means that we can focus a bit more on quality and context than quantity when it comes to the beverage selections this time around. They let me call the drink shots so, while the long weekend on Lake Champlain will allow us to taste from all over the place, the long festive day of cooking and consuming will be powered by domestic beverages only. We’ve got several ciders from Vermont and one from Virginia to sustain the traditional process of grilling one Turkey and deep frying another. There’s also a smorgasbord of wines to accompany the variety of dishes at table. Starting local we’ve got St. Pepin, a crispy white from Hid-in-Pines just north in Plattsburgh, and a home made white blend from the Cornell trial vineyard about a mile away. There’s the Finger Lakes representatives in the form of an Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling and a Damiani Pinot Noir rosé. We’ve got a western contingent visiting with Bonny Doon’s Gilroy grenache, along with the new release of Owen Roe’s Abbot’s Table and a 2007 of the same from the cellar. Just in case those bottles from the left coast don’t have enough body and acidity for some, we’ve got a “real” red wine that was made for this meal…the 2013 Marquette from Lincoln Peak in Vermont. If I can get my hands on some of their nouveau from the tank, we’ll have that too. The options for domestic and local drinks are quite astounding, when we really take a look at it, and I’m thinking that this holiday practice is more than worthy of becoming a tradition.” — Todd Trzaskos, New York Cork Report
“Our holidays are always about friends, and so, we will go to some friends, and like everyone, will eat too much, drink a bit, watch football and play cards! Its always a mixed group of drinkers, lots of beer, scotch and bourbon, and a few wine drinkers scattered in, so, I usually keep the wines pretty simple. I think I will take some Foillard Beauj Nouveau, maybe some turley juviniles zin, and some mosel Riesling, as well as a few Element Wines of course (lemberger & pinot)!” — Christopher Bates, Element Winery and FLX Wienery
“This year we celebrate Thanksgiving with family in the beautiful city of Minneapolis. It will be will be a classic, locally and sustainably sourced Turkey Day feast. For wine I know my brother-in-law, Dan, will be offering up his Spanish, Portuguese and Italian favorites. Wine is produced in Minnesota, some very good ones I am told, but for what whatever reason Dan has not acquired a taste for them. I on the other hand have a growing love of New York wines so plan to bring these from our home, the Hudson Valley. For the soup course Millbrook Proprietor’s Special Reserve Tocai Friulano, for dinner Whitecliff Gamay Noir Reserve or Cabernet Franc and Benmarl Semi-Dry Riesling. In all likelihood I’ll also bring Hudson Chatham’s – Old Vines Masson Place Vineyard Pulteney Baco Noir.” –— Peter Conway, New York Cork Report
“For Thanksgiving, we drink American wines – this is a truly American holiday after all. We also try to source our fruits and vegetables locally (or at least personally – I found beautiful fresh cranberries on a trip to Cape Cod a few weeks ago). Our table is no stranger to Willamette Pinots and Washington Cabs, but this year we are drinking our own wines. We are going to start with our Unoaked Chardonnay. It’s refreshing and light enough to sip while cooking, but just rich enough to take you through the entire meal if you so like… and the apple, pear, and almond notes go beautifully with almost everything this time of year. After the white, we will likely open a bottle of our 2012 Pinot Noir – the medium weight wine is fruity, smoky, and versatile, and the cherry/strawberry notes play nicely against the earthiness of dark meat, nuts, and vegetables (especially brussel sprouts and green beans). Next up will be our 2013 Reserve Cabernet Franc – Youthful, bold and juicy, with a nice bright acidity and crisp tannin. This wine is ideal especially if the Turkey is grilled, or if the stuffing has sausage. As always, we will have a long walk after the meal. It’s a great way to keep the blood flowing and take in some crisp autumnal air, and local wildlife is usually out since the North Fork is so quiet in the fall.” — Brewster McCall, Owner, McCall Wines
“Thanksgiving at the Ingle home is a perfect opportunity to share the Ingle Vineyard lifestyle with family and friends. Being an avid gardener as well as a grape grower, Thanksgiving is all about homegrown. The festivities begin with Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay unoaked, our favorite wine! Crisp and refreshing with complex flavors of apple and lemon, it satisfies the palate. As we move into the dinner mode our thoughts turn to turkey and a versatile red such as the just released Ingle Vineyard Merlot Reserve 2013. A bright and juicy wine with medium body and a silky mouthfeel that will nicely complement the assorted organic homegrown delicacies such as sweet peas, mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes (yes, all from our Finger Lakes garden) and stuffing made with our carrots, celery, herbs and raisins. Traditional and time-tested flavors. For dessert we look forward to our organic apple cider pie paired with a delicious Ingle Vineyard Icewine 2010. This is a luscious wine that has an intriguing aroma of glycerine followed by creamy sweet flavors of quince and pear – nice foil for the pie.” — John Ingle, Owner, Heron Hill Winery
“Thanksgiving in the Gorton House means it time to fry a turkey. I have been deep frying turkey for the last five Thanksgivings. And to be quite honest, I can’t think of a better way to cook the bird. It leaves more room in the oven for those ever important sides. When it comes to beverages it’s always what I feel like drinking. I am very lucky that I have convinced my family to enjoy the day with their favorite wine, which is also my favorite. There will be some sauvignon blanc, some riesling, some merlot and some cabernet franc open — mostly local — with some others from some of my favorite producers I’ve grown to admire. While the bird is frying, that’s my time. I’ll sit in the back yard with a tasty IPA or even a saison and just sit an watch the temperature stay constant for about 45 minuets. And then we feast.” — Michael Gorton, New York Cork Report
“For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been a fairly large affair with aunts and uncles coming together from both sides of my family. As grandparents and family members have passed, my extended family has embraced each other even more. For the past few years, we have had a gathering of no less than 40 people ranging in age from two to ninety-two and we take-over a local fish & game club for the day. The turkeys are not wild however. Heron Hill kindly allows me to borrow dishes, flatware and wine glasses — and my aesthetically-minded mother and aunts transform the space with artfully placed squash and lots of laughter. It’s a lively mix of people all connected by Keuka Lake, some blood-releated and some consider each other family just by knowing each other for decades, collectively referred to as just “the cousins” with people living in Rochester, Branchport, Hammondsport, as well as in OH, MA, CT and NH. We typically have a pre-dinner toast with Hunt Country sparkling wine when it’s available, because the Hunt Family is a distant relative and this group is all about supporting family. My uncle prepares a rustic turkey giblet pate in an attempt to replicate the way my grandfather made it, I’m one of the select few who really enjoy it — especially with a crisp Riesling. The other pre-dinner snack is usually smoked fish. We always say that we’ll eat at 2pm, but that usually turns into 4pm. Throughout the evening, we enjoy a mix of wines from all over — many Finger Lakes favorites that people are anxious to share — or something interesting that someone tried while traveling in the past year. Although we think of the ‘fish & game club’ tradition fondly, it has become a lot of work to set-up and clean-up. This year we are all invading a restaurant on Keuka Lake to simplify and to just be grateful that we’re together. In the spirit of the holiday, the restaurant has allowed us to bring local wine for a $7 per bottle corkage fee. I’m bringing Ingle Vineyard Riesling 2012 and Heron Hill Reserve Gewürztraminer 2014, my boyfriend works at McGregor Vineyard Winery and will bring Pinot Noir 2010 Reserve. We then plan to have dessert, coffee, cordials and games in the more intimate setting of my aunt and uncle’s cottage. ” — Erin Rafalowski, Marketing and PR Manager, Heron Hill Winery
“Like many families, the build-up to Thanksgiving Dinner begins early with ample time to prime taste buds before sitting down for the meal itself. To set a festive atmosphere, we will be enjoying some 2009 Hermann J. Wiemer Blanc de Blanc as an aperitif. A rose’ helps to make a perfect transition from the pre-meal to dinner, so next we will have the 2014 Pinot Noir rose’ from Forge Cellars. For the main meal, the flavors, acidity and balance of a Finger Lakes Riesling make it a great choice for pairing with Turkey and carb-laden sides. We will be having the 2014 Keuka Spring Humphreys Vineyard Riesling and the 2013 Anthony Road Winery Semi-Sweet Riesling to give to satisfy both dry and sweeter palate preferences. The 2012 Red Tail Ridge Sticky, Dessert Riesling will be available for anyone still has room left to enjoy.” — Lindsay Prichard, New York Cork Report